Weight and loading calculations for complex models possible in Rhino?

Thanks to some helpful direction from Rhino users, I have made some progress with the eval copy, toward determining if I can use Rhino by itself to replace the 3 older, stand-alone copies of the programs I use currently. I imported my AutoCAD files including templates and layers (huge time saver) and made changes/new drawings and have built some 3D models from them as I do in AutoCAD, including slicing multiple elements along specific angles.

More recently I created materials, mapped a model and rendered a scene as I do with those models in 3ds Max in my current workflow, to show potential customers the product’s appearance.

The last part of my work which I’m hoping to be able to replicate in Rhino, involves taking the AutoCAD models, (freeform floating golf greens with angled tops) once prepared (sectioned to match construction methods) and importing them into Autodesk Inventor, applying real-life materials (and some custom ones I’ve created to match certain aspects) which gives me a total weight and COG information which is very accurate.

I developed a process where I then apply stand-ins for the floats to the base, placed where they will be when the unit is built, and run a simulation which tells me what the load is on each. That data goes in a spreadsheet which tells the builder how deep to place the floats into the units.

That is a critical part of my process, as it allows the owner to be confident he can put these greens into the lake and know they will float level, 2" above the water, with very little adjustment needed, if any. In prior years he would make educated guesses and adjust on-site with weights and tie-downs, was his biggest expense with installs. Given some of these have weighed 20,000 lbs and had many floats of varying sizes, it was well worth the time I spent figuring it out. I have images of some of these on my website, appears I cannot add a photo here.

I’ve been trying to find tutorials on similar processes using Rhino, the closest I’ve found involved working on a cloud-based app. It seemed similar but convoluted. However I noted the Grasshopper tool, but that seems more like a 3ds Max physics engine for animations.

Based on what I’ve described, does it seem possible to do those kind of simulations using Rhino, and if so can it be done by a plug-in, or is the cloud method the typical way?

I’m fine with either, probably save my computer to do it on the cloud, be faster.

Simulations task my older computer even though it was a powerful unit for its time. I was pleased to see that my laptop handled the rendering process in Rhino pretty well, but I am planning to buy a desktop set up for just that kind of work if I go this way.

Thank you for any information.

maybe edit your post and use some bold keywords, so it is easier for people to cross-read your long post ? and judge if they can help

just reading the headline - is you question similar to this topic ?

Hello- I am not sure I fully understand the question but it seems like you are looking for FEA analysis, possibly? There are plug-ins like ScanAndSolve that do this, but I am not sure I am answering the right question.


Thanks Tom –

The topic you included is similar, that is my starting point for simulations.

Once I have the correct materials applied (aluminum of several types, pressure-treated wood, plastic turf, sand, plywood, float plastics etc.) then I have a setup process in Inventor, importing floats of specific sizes and placing them exactly, on a 2D layout I draw on the bottom of the imported object, which matches the blueprints I made in AutoCAD.

Once the stand-ins are linked to the base, with fixed constraints on their bottoms, and gravity is applied to the model, the program runs and tells me exactly how much weight is carried by each. It is similar to calculating the load on the base of a table leg, but more specific, for example the weight on the table top at multiple locations, in addition to the load on the legs.

It looks like the link you sent has tools which can allow the overall weight and COG calc, but I cannot see how to determine the specific loading at various points. That is a critical element.

The process took me a while to sort out, I spent a lot of time on Inventor forums without much success, so once I finally had it sorted I sent my solution to others for what it was worth, who were trying to do essentially the same thing.

There is an example of the results, on the section of my website about the floating golf greens. That was the most complex of these units to date.


From what I’ve seen on Rhino videos it does appear it may be possible, but using a cloud-based service and convoluted, which is fine, I don’t mind learning, or tedious work.

I know I tend to give longer descriptions but with something very specific like this, I figure more info is better. Bolding is a great idea.

The reason I’m investigating this is I do this work on a computer from 2014, using stand-alone AutoCAD, 3ds Max and Inventor 2014 versions. And the computer is getting tired, even though only used for this. I’m worried about it crapping out eventually.

I do not do enough of this type of work yearly to be able to afford the new subscription-only costs for each of those programs in perpetuity, (I use PS and Illustrator as well) and a computer powerful enough to run them properly, but I can afford (from what I can tell) the cost of Rhino and a decent desktop. Someone I work with suggested Rhino as an alternative.

Appreciate you taking the time,



Thanks Pascal - I do run simulations in Inventor, applying gravity and the various materials and setting up constraints on the float stand-ins. I included a link to the page on my website which has an example, in my reply to Tom. Didn’t realize I could include links! D’oh. Based on what I’ve seen on a couple of videos and what Tom mentioned, getting the accurate weight should not be a problem, but I cannot tell if the specific type of simulation I need is possible. I will check out ScanAndSolve, thank you for the referral, it is appreciated. Dan

Hi Dan,
Sounds like you are looking for hydrostatic data, which rhino has capabilities to assist you with.